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Sounds Local

Sounds Local

“Hate me for a reason
Not just for who I am
Hate me for a reason

Not because it fits your plan
Don’t point your finger at me
Don’t tell me I’m to blame
Take some time — try to
understand.”

— Trevor Sewell

Hate Me for a Reason” is a new song that the Sunderland-based Wildcat O’Halloran Band is currently working on with musician Trevor Sewell, an award-winning songwriter who is also from Sunderland. Sunderland, England, that is.

How bluesman William “Wildcat” O’Halloran of Sunderland, Mass., connected with bluesman Trevor Sewell of Sunderland, England, is really a tale of modern technology.

Both musicians were slated to appear on Les Young’s Internet radio show, “Wall to Wall Blues,” and as they awaited their appearance, they struck up a friendly conversation via instant messaging.

“It’s tough when you become friends and you haven’t heard their music and you just hope it’s not horrible,” recalled the O’Halloran about his introduction to Sewell. “But then I heard the song and it’s really good and I knew I wanted my band to learn it.”

“Hate Me for a Reason,” which is a song about intolerance, was nominated for best song at the 2012 British Blues Awards.

The Wildcat O’Halloran Band recently recorded the song and has now sent it to Sewell and he will add his parts to it. In the meantime, the Sunderland connection between the two musicians has gained some notice, particularly on the other side of the Atlantic.

“Trevor and I were interviewed on Sky TV in the UK. They just can’t get over that there is another Sunderland, their town is a kind of grimy factory town and they can’t believe our Sunderland is this pastoral place.”

O’Halloran is anxious to hear how Sewell responds to his version of the song.

“I changed it slightly, to be a little more rocking, so we’ll see what Trevor does,” he said. “He has that stinging Stratocaster guitar sound, kind of like Robert Cray, while I play more distorted, more like Albert King.”

Hopefully, Sewell, who has toured on the West Coast, will be able to make it to New England at some point so the two musicians can actually meet and play together. Once the song is completed, the details on when and how to release it will be determined.

The Wildcat O’Halloran Band closes out the 2013 winter season of the Wendell Full Moon Coffeehouse with a show on Saturday, May 18, at 7:30. The night will open with an open mic. Partial proceeds from this show will benefit the Young Entrepreneurs Society.

For this show, The O’Halloran Band will consist of Joe Fitzpatrick on drums, Matt “Loverboy” McManamon on bass, Wally “Sweet Daddy” Greaney on harp, Emily Duff of the Raft on saxophone and his daughter Sarah “Wildkitten” O’Halloran singing backing vocals.

Considering the band’s longevity, it’s hard to believe that this show marks the first time that it has performed at the long-running Full Moon Coffeehouse.

“We’ve talked about it for years and now we are finally doing it,” O’Halloran said.

When it comes to the blues, O’Halloran has been delighting area audiences for over 25 years; he’s even been called the Pioneer Valley’s answer to Stevie Ray Vaughn. O’Halloran and his band have opened for artists like Gregg Allman, Bo Diddley, John Mayall, Albert Collins, James Cotton and a host of other blues legends.

In the mid-2000s, he stepped back from music to concentrate on running his restaurant, The Dove’s Nest in Sunderland. At a 2010 benefit concert held at the Harp in Sunderland, he met up with young guitar prodigy, Nate “Lightning Boy” Dana, who inspired him to form a new band and before he knew it, O’Halloran was off and at it again. This second wave of his career has really seen O’Halloran injecting plenty of energy and fun into his guitar-driven brand of the blues.

The Wildcat O’Halloran Band frequently performs at area venues like The Harp, Deja Brew, the Shutesberry Athletic Club, The Iron Horse Music Hall and many others. The band has released three CDs since 2010 with the most recent being last year’s “Cougar Bait Blues.”

The disc is full of blistering guitar work, O’Halloran’s gravely, expressive vocals and lyrics that are outright funny. With songs like “I Worship the Ground She Walks All Over Me On” and “Xmas Divorce,” alongside some choice covers, “Cougar Bait Blues” is the perfect soundtrack for a good time.

O’Halloran admitted that he has taken some flak from purists who don’t support his less-than-traditional approach to the blues.

“I was listening to a James Cotton interview where he said we have watered down the blues to make them mainstream. I understand that concern, but I’m afraid the cure can be worse than the disease. When we start excluding new elements and drawing these lines that we aren’t supposed to color out of, that’s self-defeating. I guess I’d rather be fun at a party.”

It will be fun when The Wildcat O’Halloran Band takes the stage at the Wendell Full Moon Coffeehouse as he promises “the ultimate show I can provide.”

The Wendell Full Moon Coffeehouse is located in Old Town Hall in the center of Wendell. Admission is by sliding scale $6 to $15. Shows are all ages and general admission. For more information visit www.wendellfullmoon.org or call 978-544-5557.

You can also catch Wildcat O’Halloran every Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. when he hosts a blues jam at City Sports Grille, 525 Pleasant St. (inside of Spare Time Family Fun Center), Northampton. This event is free.

www.wildcatohalloran.com

Rare Stone Coyotes show at the Rendezvous in Turners Falls

Stone Coyotes fans have something to howl about because the trio will play a rare local show at the Rendezvous, 78 3rd St., Turners Falls on Sunday, May 19 at 9 p.m. The last time the band played locally was February 2012. The reason for the dearth of shows is a simple one of geography. Bass player John Tibbles lives in Los Angeles while drummer Doug Tibbles and his wife, guitarist/vocalist Barbara Keith, remain in Greenfield. John is coming to Greenfield to do some recording for the band’s next album, which it hopes to release in the fall. While he is here, the band couldn’t resist getting out there and to do some rocking. So don’t miss out as it could be awhile before another local Coyotes show!

The show is free of charge, tips for the performers are always welcomed.

www.stonecoyotes.com

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at soundslocal@yahoo.com

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